New Kensington KFC coming back with a new look
They're going to make New Kensington finger lickin' good again.
The former KFC, at Stevenson Boulevard and Fourth Street in the Parnassus area, is expected to reopen by mid-September, sporting a design playing up the history of its founder, Colonel Harland Sanders.
Part of the thinking behind the “American Showman” design is that some younger people don't realize that Colonel Sanders — recently portrayed in television commercials by a variety of actors — men and women — was a real person, said Ron Hindman, chief operating officer for the KFC division at Ampex Brands, which owns the store.
Sanders died in December 1980 at the age of 90.
“Colonel Sanders was a great showman in his own right, the way he branded Kentucky Fried Chicken back when he was trying to get his own company up and running,” Hindman said. “It's a tribute to the colonel. It's a fantastic looking building. It will be the first in the Pittsburgh area.
“It won't look anything like it did before,” he said. “It's going to look amazing.”
Ampex Brands is hiring for the location and expects it to employ at least 40 people, Hindman said. Its management already is in training.
“We feel comfortable that restaurant is going to be busy with people who remember the KFC that was there before,” Hindman said.
Ampex owns 42 KFC restaurants in the Pittsburgh market area, including those in Harmar, Monroeville and Penn Hills.
The New Kensington KFC was previously owned by Morgan's Foods. Ampex, formerly Apex, and Morgan's Foods merged in May 2014.
That KFC, along with one Morgan's Foods owned in Harrison, closed in 2011 after KFC terminated the franchise rights. KFC accused Morgan's Foods of not complying with its image enhancement obligations.
The former KFC in Harrison found new life as a Bob's Sub location. The New Kensington KFC, however, remained empty.
“As we looked at the restaurants that were throughout the market that had been closed, it made sense to go back into some areas,” Hindman said. “The New Kensington one, we thought, would make a good location for us again.”
Because the site had previously been a restaurant and it's a permitted use in that area, it didn't need much review from the city, code enforcement officer Pat McGrath said. The main issue that arose was flood certification because of a change in flood elevations, which required raising the restaurant's coolers higher.
Little Pucketa Creek, behind the restaurant, overflows from time to time.
With approval of the final plans expected soon, contractors are standing by to start work, Hindman said.
Despite being empty for seven years, Hindman said the building is in pretty good shape. After its conversion, there will be a little more room and seating inside than before.
“There is a buzz in the New Kensington area about KFC coming back,” he said. “Our Facebook page has so many positive comments from people who can't wait to get some of our famous KFC Original Recipe Chicken back into New Kensington.”